Vs Listens-to-Wind

May 23rd, 2022
Not a member of Pastebin yet? Sign Up, it unlocks many cool features!
  1. Injun Joe was smiling a fierce, wolfish smile.
  2. The naagloshii came down, its mouth stretching into a wolflike muzzle, extending claws on all four of its limbs as it prepared to savage the old man.
  3. But Listens-to-Wind spoke a single word, his voice shaking the air with power, and then his form melted and shifted, changing as fluidly as if he'd been made of liquid mercury that until that moment had only been held in the shape of an old man by an effort of will. His form simply resolved itself into something different, as naturally and swiftly as taking a deep breath.
  4. When the naagloshii came down, it didn't sink its claws into a leathery old wizard.
  5. Instead, it found itself muzzle to muzzle with a brown bear the size of a minibus.
  6. The bear let out a bone-shaking roar and surged forward, overwhelming the naagloshii with raw mass and muscle power. If you've ever seen a furious beast like that in action, you know that it isn't something that can be done justice in any kind of description. The volume of the roar, the surge of implacable muscle beneath heavy pelt, the flash of white fangs and glaring red-rimmed eyes combine into a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. It's terrifying, elemental, touching upon some ancient instinctual core inside every human alive that remembers that such things equal terror and death.
  7. The naagloshii screamed, a weird and alien shriek, and raked furiously at the bear, but it had outsmarted itself. Its long, elegantly sharp claws, perfect for eviscerating soft-skinned humans, simply did not have the mass and power they needed to force their way through the bear's thick pelt and the hide beneath, much less the depth to cut through layers of fat and heavy muscle. It might as well have strapped plastic combs to its limbs, for all the good its claws did it.
  8. The bear seized the skinwalker's skull in its vast jaws, and for a second, it looked like the fight was over. Then the naagloshii blurred, and where a vaguely simian creature had been an instant before, there was only a tiny flash of urine yellow fur, a long, lean creature like a ferret with oversized jaws. It wiggled free of the huge bear and evaded two slaps of its giant paws, letting out a defiant, mocking snarl as it slid free.
  9. But Injun Joe wasn't done yet, either. The bear lifted itself into a ponderous leap, and came down to earth again as a coyote, lean and swift, that raced after the ferret nimbly, fangs bright. It rushed after the fleeing ferret-which suddenly turned, jaws opening wide, and then wider, and wider, until an alligator coated in sparse tufts of yellow fur turned to meet the onrushing canine, which found itself too close to turn aside.
  10. The canine form melted as it shot toward the alligator's maw, and a dark-winged raven swept into the jaws and out the far side as they snapped shut. The raven turned its head and let out mocking caws of laughter as it flew away, circling around the clearing.
  11. The alligator shuddered all over, and became a falcon, golden and swift, its head marked by tufts of yellowish fur that almost looked like the naagloshii's ears had in its near-human form. It hurtled forward with supernatural speed, vanishing behind a veil as it flew.
  12. I heard the raven's wings beat overhead as it circled cautiously, looking for its enemy-and then was struck from behind by the falcon's claws. I watched in horror as the hooked beak descended to rip at the captured raven-and met the spiny, rock-hard back of a snapping turtle. A leathery head twisted and jaws that could cut through medium-gauge wire clamped onto the naagloshii-falcon's leg, and it let out another alien shriek of pain as the two went plummeting to the earth together.
  13. But in the last few feet, the turtle shimmered into the form of a flying squirrel, limbs extended wide, and it converted some of its falling momentum into forward motion, dropping to a roll as it hit the ground. The falcon wasn't so skilled. It began to change into something else, but struck the stony earth heavily before it could finish resolving into a new form.
  14. The squirrel whirled, bounded, and became a mountain lion in midleap, landing on the stunned, confused mass of feathers and fur that was the naagloshii. Fangs and claws tore, and black blood stained the ground to the sound of more horrible shrieks. The naagloshii coalesced into an eerie shape, four legs and batlike wings, with eyes and mouths everywhere. All the mouths were screaming, in half a dozen different voices, and it managed to tear its way free of the mountain lion's grip and go flapping and tumbling awkwardly across the ground. It staggered wildly and began to leap clumsily into the air, bat wings beating. It looked like an albatross without enough headwind, and the mountain lion was hard on its heels the whole way, claws lashing out to tear and rake.
  15. The naagloshii disappeared into the darkness, its howls drifting up in its wake as it fled. It continued to scream in pain, almost sobbing, as it rushed down the slope toward the lake. Demonreach followed its departure with a surly sense of satisfaction, and I couldn't say that I blamed it.
  16. The skinwalker fled the island. Its howls drifted on the night wind for a time, and then they were gone.
  17. The mountain lion stared in the direction that the naagloshii had fled for long moments. Then he sat down, his head hanging, shivered, and became Injun Joe once more. The old man was sitting on the ground, supporting himself with both hands. He stood up slowly, and a bit stiffly, and one of his arms looked like it might be broken midway between wrist and elbow. He continued to look after his routed opponent, then snorted once and turned to walk carefully over to me.
  18. "Wow," I told him quietly.
  21. Turn Coat Chapter 45, Page 450-454
RAW Paste Data Copied